Phi Beta Cons

Academics as Sheep

Robert has drawn our attention to the Steven Pinker article of 2005 affirming differences in scientific ability between men and women. To my knowledge, Pinker was the only scientist to defend Lawrence Summers when he came under siege for mildly and speculatively suggesting that sex differences might be among several factors to account for the paucity of women in the top rungs of the sciences.

And even the Pinker article is about 90 percent hemming and hawing and bowing and scraping. The rest of the many scientists doing research in sex differences did not have the courage to defend Summers, no doubt assuaging their consciences by saying it was the “way” he said it that was offensive, or the “context” that was inappropriate, or some such thing. (Did the otherwise big-mouthed Richard Dawkins have anything to say at that time?)
But this is the caliber of the scientific community today. Doesn’t it become clearer and clearer by the year how things happen as they do in totalitarian states? This may seem far-fetched, but the willingness to go along and to shrink from standing up for the right, even when the danger is minimal or non-existent, seems to be a strong force in human nature. This allows certain false ideas to gain and to hold greater power than they could otherwise.
People are sheep; they abandon principle the minute they sense where the power is. (Apologies to the sheep community – this is just a metaphor. The sheep are doing only what their God-given nature prompts them to do, and they are very sweet about it, too.)


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